Aug 12, 2009

Freedom from deadly secondhand smoke comes to Iraq

Apparently, Michigan is going to be surpassed by Third World countries when it comes to protecting the health of its citizens, thanks to the failure of Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, to allow a vote on the workplace smoking ban that includes bars and restaurants.

The news comes from Iraq that the Iraqi cabinet has agreed to a draft law to restrict smoking in public places and ban tobacco advertising. If approved by the Iraqi Parliament, smoking would be banned in all government and public sector buildings, as well as outlawed in theatres, clubs, offices and on the public transport network.

Smoking is widespread in Iraq. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 41 percent of Iraqi men and nearly 7 women of women are smokers, compared to an overall rate of 22 percent in Michigan. Because it is so widespread in Iraq, it’s unclear if the ban will apply to cafes, bars and restaurants, but hopefully freedom will march on in Iraq and it will happen.

In June, Turkey, which ranks 10th in the world in tobacco consumption, banned smoking in bars and restaurants. Michigan remains one of only 13 states without a workplace smoking ban.

Iraq joins a long list of countries that have banned smoking in workplaces, including bars and restaurants. Those countries include Argentina, Belgium, China, Croatia, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Malaysia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Scotland, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Wales, Uruguay and Zambia

That list does not include Australia, Canada and Germany that allows states and providences to enact individual bans, and the majority has done so.

It’s long overdue for Michigan lawmakers to do the right thing and join the rest of the country and world in protecting the health of innocent bystanders. Bishop needs to allow a vote on House Bill 4377, passed by the House in May that bans smoking in all workplaces, with the exception of casinos and so-called cigar bars, or allow a vote on Senate Bill 114 that has no exceptions.

1 comment:

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